Tuesday, October 26, 2010
My Life With Comic Books: Part # 163
The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 45
Mal Howley: age 46
Adam Howley: my son, age 21
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 16
MY LIFE WITH COMIC BOOKS: THE HISTORY OF A COMIC SHOP-Part 163
The two major local newspapers finally ran articles and photographs about my eagerness to buy collectibles while I was set up for a week in the Belknap Mall in New Hampshire. With only one full day left of my rental time, I was curious to see what kind of results these two articles would have as far as motivating area residents to bring their items to sell to me. The previous six days had been profitable because of a few nice lots of items I was able to buy but most of each twelve-hour day I spent alone in my booth and it was boring.
I decided to get to the mall even earlier than I had been getting there because it took me about an hour to set up the toy display each morning. I assumed that we’d have a few more people than usual showing up with stuff for me to look at and I was happy that my wife, Mal, insisted on coming with me that morning. By the time we arrived at the mall there were already about twenty people carrying boxes and pushing shopping carts full of collectibles waiting for me!
Mal and I quickly arranged our display of collectibles in our booth and I began to look through the items that the people had brought into the mall. The first few had toy trucks and Matchbox cars. The next had some old magazines. I made offers on all of these items and the people were satisfied enough and they sold them to me. The next man had a very large plastic storage container filled with comic books from the 1960’s. I asked him if he had an idea of how much he wanted for the whole lot and he said he’d like at least $50 for the lot. I started to search through the container and found several interesting comic books that I knew I could sell for $5 to $10 each. Then I found a copy of “Amazing Fantasy” issue # 15 featuring the very first appearance of Spider-Man. It was only in “good” condition because of some creases on the front cover, but I knew I could sell this for about $750. When I offered the man $600 for just this one comic book he was shocked but he was very happy. It took me about twenty minutes to calculate my offer on the whole lot of four hundred comic books but when I offered the man $1200 for the collection he was thrilled!
As I was appraising and buying stuff from the people in line, I could see that the line continued getting longer as more people carried boxes and bags of old things into the mall. I wanted to hurry through some of the appraisals but I didn’t want to be rude to anyone, so I did my best to explain the true value of each and every item. One man, who was about 15 places back in the line, yelled up to me. As I looked at him he slid a group of 1940’s comic books out of a large envelope. I told him I’d get to him as soon as I possibly could but he said he couldn’t wait any longer. He’d already waited for almost an hour. I explained that I wouldn’t be set up in the mall after today and I gave him my business card and asked him to call me the next day. He assured me that he’d call. He never did. It still annoys me that there is a large collection of rare golden-age comic books sitting somewhere in the area. I should have gotten his phone number!
The crowd was finally gone by about 4 pm and I had large piles of merchandise piled up inside my booth. I also had a few good “leads” on potential additional collections that people didn’t want to bring into the mall. One of these consisted of almost 25,000 comic books from the late 1970’s-2000. I finally completed a deal on these a few months after my mall experience. These were not particularly valuable but I did eventually sell them all.
Overall, this buying experience was exhausting but it was a profitable venture and I have a few new friends because of it.
Next chapter: We travel to New York City to feed the homeless.